Monthly Archives: June 2014

Mexican Sour Gherkin

My favorite plant center, The Plant Barn, brought these awesome little nuggets called Mexican Sour Gherkins or Mouse Melons, to my attention last summer. Of course it was too late to plant them, so I had to wait almost a whole year before I could finally get my dirty little hands on the seeds!

These, my friends, are Mexican Sour Gherkins!

These, my friends, are Mexican Sour Gherkins!

Much to my unadulterated joy, I was able to both buy seeds and buy the started plant at The Plant Barn. I’m going to tell you a secret. I am a horrible seed starter! When given the chance to buy a plant or start a plant from seed, I’ll buy the plant every time, I don’t care if it is more expensive, they freakin’ live!

The plant like to have a trellis to grow up.

The plant likes to have a trellis to grow up.

I did actually manage to start several plants from seed! They took longer to start growing and producing compared to your normal garden cucumber, but they make up for it because they are unique! They look little like baby watermelons!  It’s fun to give them to kids, it blows their little minds (oh they blew mine too, who am I kidding?).

The plant is fairly prolific, I can pick a handful to munch on, fairly quickly.

The plant is fairly prolific, I can pick a handful to munch on, fairly quickly.

These “melons” do taste like cucumbers you are used to, but just a whisper sour. I haven’t had enough to make bread and butter pickles, but I hear they are delicious that way. I’ve been enjoying them alone, but my favorite is sliced in half and on a salad! They add a surprising little kick!

The guts...

The guts…

If you get the chance to grow these little guys, I highly recommend them! It’s always fun to get some new and exciting things in your garden and they have been a great treat for Silly the teacup pig!

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Hey! Celebrities Do It!

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Introducing Boo the Cowdog

Working dogs are essential to our way of life. Unfortunately, we lost one of our girls this winter and another needs to be retired soon. It’s not easy for us or the dog when it’s time for them to slow down or retire. The dog’s live to work, their greatest joy is just going. We usually end up spending more time with our dogs than we do any other person or animal. Our dogs are more than pets, they are our coworkers, our protectors, our companions and a part of our family.

The day I brought her home. Deceptively innocent looking, isn't she?

The day I brought her home. Deceptively innocent looking, isn’t she?

We often joke that a good cowdog is worth two good cowboys or one cowgirl!

By the third day she was home, she was already throwing parties in my house.

By the third day she was home, she was already throwing parties in my house.

We’ve known it was time for another pup for a while. I’ve been looking for the perfect pup to replace my Dad’s soon to be retired dog, Ranchie, for about a year. I paraded adorable puppy picture after puppy picture in front of my Dad, hoping he would be interested in one. My Aunt even brought one of her red queensland pups over around Christmastime, but to no avail. My Dad had a specific pup in mind, and after a year I finally found her.

She quickly won us over with her inquisitive nature.

She quickly won us over with her inquisitive nature and puppy breath.

 

Seriously though, those kelpie ears!

Seriously though, those kelpie ears!

My friend, Mindi, has a dog named Lady, that looks an awful lot like my Dad’s dog, Ranchie. I asked Mindi if she knew of anyone that had some good working pups, that looked like Lady, looking for homes. As fate would have it she did, and I immediately sent an e-mail inquiring about female pups. Mindi’s neighbor, June, e-mailed me right back. Turned out she had one female kelpie pup left. Fate. She sent me a picture of the pup. I walked over to my Dad’s house and flashed him the picture of the cutest little kelpie pup, I’d ever seen. Dad agreed. I found his new dog.

Her first day seeing cows. She did so good!

Her first day seeing cows. She did so good!

After her first day of following me working on the ranch. Tired pup!

After her first day of following me working on the ranch. Tired pup!

A few weeks after that I was able to pick the pup up for my Dad. It had been decided that I would care for and socialize the pup until she was old enough to start working. We generally start working dogs at a year. That means I am looking at a good six months of puppy sitting full time and another six of part time puppy sitting, only to turn her over to my Dad.

She already figured out that bottle calves equal treats!

She already figured out that bottle calves equal treats!

Aunt Jinx taught her to swim in the ditches.

Aunt Jinx taught her to swim in the ditches.

Grandma Ranchie and Bud are teaching her to swim in supplement containers.

Grandma Ranchie and uncle Bud are teaching her to swim in supplement containers.

The great thing is, I work with my Dad so I’ll still see her and work with her everyday! But usually after a few months of working full time with my Dad a dog’s allegiance changes. You see these cowdogs are bred and born work, and they love and respect whoever the work with the most, in this case it will be my Dad.

She's wasn't so sure about Dad, she really wanted to be back in MY lap.

She’s wasn’t so sure about Dad, she really wanted to be back in MY lap.

I’ve had this dog for a little over a month now, I spend a lot of time with her. I have to say, I am impressed with this dog and am seriously considering not giving her up. The force is strong with this one.

Not even six months old, and she has this ranch dog thing pretty much figured out.

Not even six months old, and she has this ranch dog thing pretty much figured out.

Of course, I’ll give Boo to my Dad when she is ready. I still have a few good years left with my dog, Hoot, and I can tell how excited and proud he already is of Boo. I know how hard it is to watch a dog you love and depend on grow old and retire and am deeply pleased to be able to mitigate that for my Dad a whisper. I know Boo is the beginning of a long line of excellent Brown Ranch cattledogs.

It's been slow, but they are slowly bonding.

It’s been slow, but they are slowly bonding.

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Best Friends Forever

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Fun Ag Facts XI

fun ag fact of the day: California produces a remarkable 95% of all apricots grown in the United States. 

Fun ag fact of the day: Anthocyanins in cherries give the fruit its red color and help protect the heart and surrounding tissues.

fun ag fact of the day: Cherries are fat, cholesterol, and sodium free. 

fun ag fact of the day: In 1996, each American consumed an average of 77 pounds more of commercially grown vegetables than in 1970, 63 pounds more grain products, 54 pounds more fruits, 32 pounds more poultry, 10 gallons more milk lower in fat than whole milk, 20.5 pounds less red meat, 73 fewer eggs, and 17 gallons less whole milk.

fun ag fact of the day: More than 96 billion pounds of edible “surplus” food is thrown away in the U.S. Each year. It is estimated that almost 27% of our food supply is wasted.

Fun ag fact of the day: The Cotton Belt covers the southern half of the United States, reaching from Virginia to California. Texas is the top cotton-producing state, harvesting about one-third of the crop each year.

fun ag fact of the day:  96 million eggs were sold for Easter in 2012!

fun ag fact of the day: The five regional whiskeys always included are: Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Kentucky (Bourbon), Canadian Whiskey, and Tennesse Whiskey. The disputed two regional whiskeys are Japanese and New Zealand.

fun ag fact of the day: The “Angel’s share” or “Angel’s tax” refers to the 4% of whiskey that evaporates every year.

fun ag fact of the day: Don’t ever say Irish whiskey tastes smoky. Malted barely is dried in closed ovens, and is never exposed to smoke.

fun ag fact of the day: The very first whiskey was (arguably) created in Ireland by Irish monks.

fun ag fact of the day: In Gaelic, whiskey translates to uisce beatha or “water of life.”

fun ag fact of the day: California is the fourth-largest wine producer in the world, after France, Italy, and Spain. 

fun ag fact of the day: Pistachio, mango, cashew and poison ivy are in the same family. 

fun ag fact of the day: Cashews in Costa Rica are harvested during March and April.

Fun ag fact of the day:  pistachio trees take seven to 10 years to mature.

fun ag fact of the day: By 2010 Americans were eating 900 percent more broccoli than they were eating in 1990.

fun ag fact of the day: the mouse melon or Mexican sour gherkin is a vine grown for its edible fruit. Fruit are about the size of grapes and taste like cucumbers with a tinge of sourness.

fun Ag fact: Pears are an excellent source of fiber, which helps with digestion. A medium size pear contains 6 grams of fiber, or 24 percent of your daily value. Most of the fiber is located in the skin of the fruit.

Fun ag fact of the day: the sumo orange is a cross between the mandarin and a California navel orange. 

fun ag fact of the day: the sumo orange took 30 years to develop in Japan, where it is called Dekopon and highly prized.

Fun ag fact of the day: Cabbage is one of the oldest vegetables in existence and continues to be a dietary staple throughout the world.

Fun ag fact of the day: Cabbage can be steamed, boiled, braised, microwaved, stuffed, or stir-fried, and eaten raw.

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Wordless Wednesday: Kids, Stop Fighting or I Will Turn This Truck Around

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CropLife America 2014 – I Went, I Saw, I Spoke

Now that I am back on the ranch and have calmed down sufficiently to form coherent thoughts, I want to share my experience at CropLife America’s 2014 Policy Conference. This was the first time I’ve done anything of this caliber, it was quite an eye-opening experience for this ranch kid.

Speaking in public or even performing in public (ask me about the burlesque show I was in!) is not an issue for me. Years and years of 4-H, FFA, and college clubs have honed me into an old pro when it comes to crowds, plus once you’ve sang and danced in your underwear in front of your hometown, there is nothing left to fear!

Or so I thought.

Speaking in front of a roomful of people that I respect and lurk often? Whose books, articles and blogs I go to for information and opinions? With cameras and people live-tweeting what I was saying!? In our nation’s capital?! With no cow poo on me?!? Nope. That was not my natural habitat and more than just a whisper outside of my comfort zone.

I was so scared the morning of the conference that I took almost no pictures, which is rare for me! They had TV's where live tweets where streaming, I could see my friend Jenny's tweeting and it made me feel so much better!

They had TVs where live tweets where streaming, I could see my friend Jenny’s tweets and it made me feel so much better!

I was terrified the morning of the conference. It was so ridiculous because I met many of the other participants and CropLife members the night before, and everyone was fantastically nice. We were going to be talking about a subject that is my greatest passion and deepest love. Regardless, the few hours before my panel I was a hot mess. I was convinced I had made a HUGE mistake by agreeing to do this. I wondered if anyone would notice if I just hid in the bathroom?

I met my fellow panelist, Dee Dee Darden, the night before. She was warm, engaging and knew her ham (seriously I want to buy a country ham from her)! Jesse Hirsch, I was familiar with because of his work with Modern Farmer (subscribe, it’s great stuff). And our moderator was Ali Velshi (OMG). And then there was me – needless to say, I felt out-gunned, intimidated and a long, long, way from home.

I was so scared the morning of the conference that I took few pictures, which is rare for me. I stole this picture from CropLife America. Look how terrified I look.

I was so scared the morning of the conference that I took few pictures, which is rare for me. I stole this picture from CropLife America. I look terrified.

When it was time to start, I nervously stumbled on the stage and tried to smile. I kept reminding myself that I castrate things for a living. That no one in that room was 1200 pounds, mooing and trying to kill me. Thankfully, Jesse and Dee Dee spoke before me, so I had a few minute to acclimatize to being on stage. When it was was my turn to speak, Mr. Velshi brought up Silly pig, and my hogs, which is my happy place. Much to my surprise, I opened my mouth and words actually came out! Once our panel started, I lost my nerves and decided I had made the right choice by not hiding in the bathroom.

As promised, the video of our panel:

Let’s talk about Ali Velshi for a second. A large part of the reason I was willing to leave the ranch and participate in this panel was because I was familiar with his work both on TV and when he moderated the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Dialogues in New York. Mr. Velshi gets it; he realizes how important agriculture is and he talks about that fact. We have a primetime, well respected journalist taking time to moderate conferences and interact with farmers and ranchers –  are we paying attention Agriculture?

What I like most about Mr. Velshi’s moderating style is how he approached this sometimes contentious topic with humor and knowledge, it made me want to send him some Brown Ranch Beef. He quipped that his “perception of food is just fantastic” but at the same time was able to weave serious issues that face agriculture into the conversation. He mentioned that Al Jazeera realizes their main markets tend to be in the northeast but our natural resource-related problems tend to be elsewhere and they are trying to bring attention to that fact. Hey Agriculture, again does that sound like another industry we know?

Since I’ve been home, I have made more of an effort to watch Al Jazeera because I want to be informed about their reporting on those issues that are relevant to me. I urge you to do the same, I believe it is important for agriculture to engage and be aware of journalists and media that are willing to listen to us. Plus, Al Jazeera is right next to RFD TV (at least on my TV) so it makes watching both convenient! I have to say, Al Jazeera does do a stupendous job of reporting the news (no Justin Bieber or celebrity weddings!).

To wrap up, attending this conference was sensational for me for so many reasons. Getting out of my comfort zone, no matter how terrifying it was at the time, forced me to learn and accept new points of view, which makes me a more effective communicator. Mingling and having conversations with national leaders of my industry was enlightening and inspiring. But something I did not plan on getting from this conference was the confidence to do it again. I now know, that if someone asked, I could get on a plane tomorrow, and hold my own anywhere in the world. What a feeling.

I promised myself that if I kept my foul language in check and did a good job, that I could buy myself a new pair of boots....

I promised myself that if I kept my foul language in check and did a good job, that I could buy myself a new pair of boots….

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Summer

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